Author Topic: 'Lost in Thailand' a hit in China  (Read 4198 times)

Offline Johnnie F.

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'Lost in Thailand' a hit in China
« on: December 22, 2012, 08:57:46 AM »
'Lost in Thailand' a hit in China

A Chinese movie set in Thailand has broken box office records since opening earlier this month.

Lost in Thailand, a comedy about two rival Chinese businessmen who travel to the kingdom, has beaten five box office records in China since opening on Dec 12.

According to, writer and star Xu Zheng’s film took $6.25 million (191.5 million baht) on its opening day, the biggest Dec opening day ever.

It also racked up 33,000 screenings on Dec 15 – the highest number of daily screenings for a mainland Chinese film.

Nearly 3 million customers paid $14.9 million (456.5 million baht) on Dec 15, topping previous records held by Painted Skin 2, Titanic 3D and Transformers 3.

Over 1.1 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand between January and June this year, up 28.9% from the same period last year and making the Chinese the largest number of tourist arrivals in the kingdom.

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Offline Johnnie F.

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Re: 'Lost in Thailand' a hit in China
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2013, 11:20:20 AM »
Chinese Tourists Lost in Thailand Boosts Hotels: Southeast Asia

“Lost in Thailand,” a low-budget Chinese comedy about the travels of two rival businessmen and a pancake-maker through Thailand, may help the Southeast Asian nation attract a record number of tourists this year.

More than 30 million people have seen the film since its debut on Dec. 12, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency. China overtook Malaysia last year as Thailand’s biggest source of overseas tourists, and the film’s popularity could help increase total arrivals by 10 percent in 2013, according to the Association of Thai Travel Agents.

“The movie is helping boost sentiment and is increasing people’s desire to visit,” Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, the group’s president, said yesterday in an interview. “The global economic situation isn’t a big issue as we’ve seen the tourism industry grow a lot despite the slowdown. People who love traveling continue to do it anyway.”

Thailand is luring Chinese tourists away from Japan after a territorial dispute between Asia’s biggest economies led to a travel boycott last year. The Chinese film follows the Hollywood blockbuster “The Hangover: Part II” from 2011, which was set in Bangkok and generated global interest in the country.

“China is really just blowing everyone out of the water,” said William Heinecke, chief executive officer of Minor International Pcl (MINT), Thailand’s biggest hotel operator. “In percentage terms, numbers from Europe and the U.K. are down. In actual numbers, they’re still the same or slightly higher. But the big growth is coming from Russia and China.”

Floods, Protests

China accounted for 13 percent of the 19.8 million visitors to Thailand in the first 11 months of last year, according to tourism ministry data. The Tourism Authority of Thailand forecasts total visitors may rise to 24.5 million this year, from an estimate of more than 21 million in 2012.

Thailand’s tourism industry has recovered from floods that swamped the ancient capital of Ayutthaya in 2011, echoing similar revivals after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated beach resorts and political protests that shut the main airport for two weeks in 2008 and turned inner Bangkok into a warzone in 2010.

“Foreign tourists are flocking back to Thailand,” said Sittidath Prasertrungruang, an analyst at Krungsri Securities Co. “The Thai tourism industry is very resilient, with diversified sources of travelers from China and India to Russia,” he said, adding that tourism-related stocks will outperform the benchmark SET Index (SET) this year.

Revenue from tourism accounts for about 7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to government data.

Singapore, Australia

Hotel rates in the Thai capital Bangkok also remain about half those in Singapore and Hong Kong, while the baht’s gain in the past four years has been dwarfed by bigger increases in the value of the Australian and Singapore dollars.

“If you’re going to cut back you’re probably going to cut back on a trip to Singapore or Hong Kong where you’re going to pay $400 a night for a luxury hotel versus $200 a night in Thailand,” said Heinecke, who owns hotels managed by Four Seasons Hotels Inc. and Marriott International Inc. in Thailand as well as his own Anantara-brand resorts

Minor’s shares surged 93 percent last year, outstripping the SET Index’s 36 percent gain. Of the 24 analysts who cover the stock, 18 have a buy recommendation, three rate it a sell and three recommend holding the shares.

Shares of Thai Airways International Pcl (THAI), the nation’s biggest carrier, rose 11 percent last year, and Airports of Thailand Pcl (AOT), which operates most of the country’s airfields, surged 116 percent.

Airport Capacity

“The tourism sector will remain strong this year,” Jaroonpan Wattanawong, an analyst at Maybank Kim Eng Securities (Thailand) Pcl said by phone. More than 22 million overseas tourists may visit Thailand, while a reduction in personal income taxes will help boost domestic travel, he said.

Jaroonpan has a buy recommendation on Airports of Thailand with a price target of 102 baht, and also favors Asia Aviation Pcl (AAV), the parent of Thai AirAsia Co. (AIRA)

Thailand’s existing airports may struggle to accommodate the increased number of tourists, said Sittidath of Krungsri Securities. Minor’s Heinecke said the government’s decision to build an additional terminal in Phuket and move some operations to Don Mueang, Bangkok’s former international airport, will help ease congestion.

“Thailand has generally always been very strong with its infrastructure, whether you’re talking about mass transit or highways or airports,” said Heinecke. “They’ve generally been ahead of the curve, much like China.”

Charter Flights

Chinese tour groups added additional charter flights to Thailand as demand for travel to Japan declined because of the territorial dispute between the two countries, said Sisdivachr from the Association of Thai Travel Agents.

The success of “Lost in Thailand,” which is the first Chinese movie to make more than 1 billion yuan ($160 million) in box-office receipts, according to Xinhua, may convince even more Chinese to choose Thailand, Sisdivachr said. The 2011 movie “The Hangover: Part II,” which grossed $581.5 million in worldwide receipts, according to Box Office Mojo, was filmed in locations in Bangkok and Krabi.

“The tourist numbers are continuing to pop,” said Minor’s Heinecke. “We’re seeing it in Phuket, we’re seeing it in Samui, we’re seeing it all over the country.”

Offline thaiga

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Film sparks Chinese tourist boom in Chiang Mai

CHIANG MAI: -- The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)'s Chiang Mai office expects the number of tourists from China to increase by at least 20 per cent this year from 2012, driven by the huge success of the Chinese film "Lost in Thailand". More than 80 per cent of the film was shot in the northern province.

However, the local service sector, including tour agencies, needs to improve its capabilities, especially in the area of Chinese-speaking personnel, if it is to cash in on the growth of Chinese visitors, tourism officials said.

Visoot Buachum, director of the TAT's Chiang Mai office, said the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand grew 50 per cent year on year in 2012 to between 2.5 million and 2.6 million. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Chiang Mai rose from 70,000 in 2011 to about 80,000 last year.

Sorapop Chuaedamrong, vice president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, said "'Lost in Thailand' fever" had encouraged Chinese tourists to visit Chiang Mai, where most of the film was shot. The film hit screens in China in December and is credited with trebling the number of Chinese visitors to Chiang Mai at the end of last year.

"I believe in the capability of Chiang Mai province in terms of accommodation, hospitality, tourist attractions and restaurants. What concerns us is the language issue. Most Chinese tourists cannot communicate in English - only Chinese. Meanwhile, many local employees in our service sector rely on English to communicate with inbound tourists and they may face problems in speaking with Chinese people. Business operators should solve this problem in the short term by recruiting staff or recent graduates who are able to speak Chinese," he said.

"Chiang Mai itself has a good tourism foundation, such as government-funded attractions like the Chiang Mai Night Safari and the Royal Park Ratchaphruek. Aside from leisure activities, many visitors from China are also looking for business opportunities. Chiang Mai province itself should capitalise on this point by establishing a centre to provide trade and business information to Chinese visitors," he said.

Songwit Itthipattanakul, managing director of Standard Tour, a leading tour agency in Chiang Mai, said the number of individual tourists from China visiting Chiang Mai had increased dramatically since the end of last year. Chinese tourists visiting the northern city at the end of 2011 accounted for at least 7-8 per cent of the total number of Chinese tourists in Thailand in the period, up from only 5 per cent on average in previous years.

"We expect to receive growing numbers of Chinese tourists throughout this year, especially during the Chinese New Year festival to be held in February. Many Chinese tourists are now backpacking, as opposed to taking group tours. Encouraging factors are the direct flights connecting Chiang Mai with Chinese destinations such as Macao and Kunming. The situation will improve if airlines add more direct flights between Chiang Mai and other cities in China such as Guangzhou and Shanghai," Songwit said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline Johnnie F.

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Re: 'Lost in Thailand' a hit in China
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2013, 12:54:12 PM »

Lost in Thailand: How a Lowbrow, Low-Budget Film Became China’s Biggest Hit

Lost in Thailand is by any measure a ridiculous movie. Two Chinese colleagues race to find their boss at a remote monastery in Thailand, battling bad traffic, gangsters, a snake, a kickboxer and, most importantly, each other, all in an effort to win the rights to an improbable invention: Super Gas, a liquid that turns a little bit of gasoline into a lot. Somehow it is doing ridiculously well. With a budget of less than $6 million, the film has earned $193 million since it opened Dec. 12, making it the country’s most profitable film and pulling in more viewers than foreign hits such as Avatar or Transformers III, according to a report in the Caixin business journal.

While those films all relied on big-budget special effects, the action scenes in Lost in Thailand look like something out of a Leslie Nielsen film. The plot feels like a rehash of The Hangover Part II and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Without a terribly original script or eye-catching pyrotechnics, what has made Lost in Thailand such a hit? It’s a question that the rest of the film industry badly wants to answer.

Part of the explanation is timing. The New Year’s period is when China sees its biggest blockbusters rolled out, to coincide with holidays on Jan. 1 and the all important Chinese New Year a few weeks later. Director Feng Xiaogang has been synonymous with the hesuipian, or New Year’s Celebration film, offering lighthearted comedic fare like If You Are the One for family viewing over the holidays. But some of Feng’s recent works have been deadly serious. In 2010 he released Aftershock, about a pair of deadly earthquakes, and in December he released 1942, a film about wartime famine in central China. The other big release of this season, director Lu Chuan’s The Last Supper, about a power mad Han dynasty emperor, is only slightly less grim. Lost in Thailand is a natural alternative for audiences looking for something a little happier then. “This year’s hesuipian like 1942 and The Last Supper are full of serious historical topics, and the repressed atmosphere leaves visitors feeling gloomy,” said the China Culture Daily, a state-run newspaper. “In a flash the humor of Lost in Thailand makes viewers feel happy.”

Another popular theory among reviewers, social media commenters and Chinese friends who have seen the film is that it cleaves to the experiences of average Chinese in a way that few films do successfully. The film is a successor to Lost on Journey, a send up of the tribulations that Chinese face each year when they travel home for the Chinese New Year. Lost in Thailand takes the same formula and transfers it abroad to one of Chinese tourists’ favorite destinations. Xu Lang, played by director Xu Zheng, is a savvy scientist transfixed on bringing his invention to market. He is racing his former friend and rival Gao Bo, played by actor Huang Bo, to find their boss at a rural Thai monastery to win approval of their respective development plans. On the flight Xu meets Wang Bao, a simple-minded pancake maker from Beijing, clad in full tourist regalia, including the red hat from his tour group, and carrying a long list of goals for his voyage, including, of course, seeing Thai transvestites, or ‘ladyboys’. Wang, played by Wang Baoqiang, is something of a Chinese everyman, silly and easily mocked, wanting to photograph himself flashing a peace sign in front of everything, including the hotel chairs. But the obtuse pancake flipper has an honest heart, and ultimately proves wiser than Xu or the comic villain Gao.

Not everyone loves the film. Xiao Su, an author and professor at the Central China Normal University School of Chinese Language and Literature in Wuhan, told a meeting of the city’s legislature that Lost in Thailand was “vulgar, debased and commercial.” He added that Chinese films “should not just be focused on ticket sales but should emphasize a cultural orientation and pay attention to lifting ordinary people’s cultural qualities and tastes.” An op-ed in the 21st Century Economic Report, a Guangzhou-based newspaper, called such criticism elitist, and denied average people their right to the pleasures of a lighthearted movie. “When a few intellectuals who think they are the elite and filled with an enormous sense of superiority criticize Voyage to Thailand, people can’t help but think of experts in the past who said that peasants lacked the necessary qualities for a modern democracy,” wrote Zhu Naijuan, an editor for the newspaper.

The film has been largely well received in Thailand itself, which has cringed at the portrayal of over-the-top Bangkok nightlife in films such as The Hangover Part II. But due to Chinese censorship Lost couldn’t get that crazy even, if the filmmakers wanted to. So ladyboys are the subject of just one joke that cracks more fun at the wild imaginations of the Chinese characters than at Thai transvestites. A Bangkok Post columnist wrote that while it was easy to assume Lost was “a mindless, low-brow slapstick comedy with calamity, insensitive jokes against other people (and sometimes other countries),” it turned out “the movie is comparatively culturally sensitive.” A lesson, perhaps, for Hollywood.


Offline thaiga

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Re: 'Lost in Thailand' a hit in China
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2014, 04:44:09 PM »
Chinese tourists in class of their own in Chiang Mai

University considering charging visitors after box-office hit 'Lost in Thailand' prompts campus tours

Chiang Mai University will this week start charging tourists to visit its campus after a series of bizarre incidents in recent weeks involving Chinese visitors who have swamped its grounds.

The ancient town of Wieng Kumkam is one of the popular destinations for Chinese tourists besides Chiang Mai University. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The university, and its tranquil lakeside surrounds, has become a "must see" destination for the Chinese after it was featured in the 2012 smash hit movie Lost in Thailand, which has grossed more than US$200 million (6.5 billion baht) at the box office.

Associate Professor Rome Chiranukrom, who handles international relations at the university, said they were getting up to 500 Chinese visitors a day who were roaming the campus and disrupting the running of the university.

The intrusive behaviour included some Chinese pitching a tent near the Ang Kaew lake and writing "we are here" in paint on the ground, causing car accidents, sneaking into classrooms to take snaps of teachers and students, and, leaving a mess in the canteen.

However, the strangest misbehaviour, which is widely encouraged on Chinese travel websites, involves costume play where the visitors buy or rent a student uniform and pose for pictures. Mr Rome said on many occasions Chinese tourists in university uniforms have sneaked into classrooms and attended lessons.

Last Monday a Chinese teenage brother and sister dressed in uniforms and being photographed by their parents in front of the campus were noticed by a campus security guard who took them to Mr Rome.

Mr Rome said he informed the family it was against university regulations for non-students to wear the uniforms — consisting of dark slacks or skirt, a white top and purple tie — which they had purchased from a clothes shop across the road from the university's main entrance.

They were taken to a local police station and warned they could be fined 100,000 baht or face up to a year's jail under Thai laws covering university dress codes. Mr Rome said they were not charged.

"The parents told me that they admired Chiang Mai University so much and they wanted to be part of the university," Mr Rome said. "They even said that they wanted to enrol their children at the university.

"I saw this as a great opportunity instead of a threat. It is a good chance to publicise not only the beautiful setting of the university, but also its academic excellence."

Mr Rome said overall the university was "not too worried about the situation" and they were happy to welcome the Chinese visitors in Lanna style. The biggest problem they created was traffic mayhem on campus. "They have bad traffic manners," Mr Rome said. "Part of it is because they drive on the different side from Thailand. They have caused a lot of accidents on campus".

From Tuesday, the university will start 30-minute mini-bus tours of the university charging adults 50 baht and children 20 baht.

Tourists on bicycle will be charged 50 baht for a four-hour visit or 100 baht for the whole day. Motorcycle parking fees will be 100 baht for four hours and 200 baht for the day. Cars will be charged 200 baht for four hours, and 500 baht for the day and vans 300 baht and and 1,000 baht for the same periods.

Mr Rome said volunteers would provide the tourists with information and a map. The mini-bus tour will have a guide speaking both English and Chinese.

Anchalee Vittayanuntapornkul, the owner of CM Paradise a major operator of Chinese tours in Chiang Mai, said the fees would not deter the Chinese tourists.

"Are they trying to turn the university into a zoo?" she asked angrily.

"Instead of collecting fees, why don’t they enforce stronger rules to control crowds? I've never heard of any university in the world collecting a fee just to go inside. Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai is much more beautiful than CMU, but they don’t collect fees to go to visit the campus.”

She said Chiang Mai University would gain a reputation for being selfish and greedy and the city's reputation for being a cheap, friendly destination would be tarnished.

"If they can afford to come all the way to Chiang Mai, they can afford to pay 50 baht to go in the university," she said. "The Chinese tourists are not stupid. This will not stop them from coming to visit the campus."

Mr Rome denied the university was trying to fleece the tourists.

"It is not that we are trying to make the money out of the tourists," he said. "But there are some operational fees for the bus, five tour guides and the map. We are trying to make this more organised and prevent further problems created by the Chinese tourists."

According to tourism research by the university, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand has more than doubled from 1.7 million in 2011 to 3.5 million last year.

A recent social media survey by the university's Academic Centre and Creative Local Development conducted on Feb 4-10 with 2,220 respondents found widespread negative opinions about the impact of Chinese tourists on Chiang Mai.

Eighty percent agreed Chinese tourists caused problems in the community relating to noise, queue jumping, smoking, littering, being disrespectful and not obeying rules in public places including parks, government offices and universities.

Fifty-three percent said government officials were not ready to deal with the "inappropriate behaviour" of the Chinese, while 48% said they are not proud about the increase in Chinese tourists.

Mr Rome said Chiang Mai residents had to keep in mind that 60% of the Chinese tourists are first-time international travellers.

"Culture shock is something that we experience when we go abroad," he said. "But I would like to call this reverse culture shock when a different culture from another country appears in our own town. We have to admit that this is quite a new phenomenon for us. We will have to think how we will handle the situation creatively."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.